InCommon
 
e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | September 14, 2012 Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
 
 

Moravian students study in West Africa

Mohammed Ambrose poses with Dylan Marton in a silk tree. Ambrose and his wife host the students in their home.

Many miles and vast cultural differences divide students from the Lehigh Valley region and those who attend the University of The Gambia in West Africa. Studying together and exploring The Gambia is one way to shrink that chasm and improve understanding and relations and allow them to work together to make the world a better place.

According to Dylan Marton ’13, who studied at the University of The Gambia last spring with ten others from this area, the experience is just what one might expect and yet so much more.

“When you come to a place like The Gambia that’s so different from what we know at home, you expect that the people who travel with you are also ready to put the world they know aside and travel to a place that is new and different,” said Marton in an interview after his experience. That similar, adventurous outlook helps the students connect well, year after year, he added.

The program is run through the Keystone Study Away Consortium (KSAC) a cooperative composed of Chatham, Susquehanna, and Drew universities, and Juniata, Washington and Jefferson, and Moravian colleges. Other programs sponsored by KSAC include a program in India and a semester-long environmental studies program at Juniata’s Raystown Field Station.

 “This opportunity study in The Gambia with a faculty mentor and peers from consortium colleges provides students a safety net to explore a world that at first might seem quite different from their own,” says Kerry Sethi, Moravian’s director of international studies.  “A study abroad experience where students actively interact with the locals provides great personal and educational rewards for all involved, just as Dylan’s did for him.”

While studying at the University of The Gambia, established in 1999, Marton, who is majoring in education, took courses in Gambian local languages and history in addition to regular university courses. He shared housing with other students from the program and traveled on weekends to areas of interest around the country to witness the people and their culture first-hand.

Joel Nathan Rosen, associate professor of sociology and coordinator of Moravian’s Africana Studies program, says programs such as this allow students to see the world through a new and different lens. Rosen will be the program director this spring, the first time Moravian is directing it.

“What makes this such a unique trip is the coalescence of rich cultural heritages which you would expect to find in the developing world,” he says. “It’s one thing to learn about a place in the abstract, in a classroom or book, it’s another to be living in the middle of it on a day-to-day basis and see how similar our lives are to others, which is often a different experience from our original expectations.”

The spring 2013 program runs from January through early June and all credits earned in The Gambia transfer. The program will include students from Susquehanna, Juniata and Washington and Jefferson in addition to Moravian. Interested students should contact either sethi@moravian.edu or jrosen@moravian.edu. For information about KSAC visit www.juniata.edu/departments/international/ksac.html